The Life of a Farmer's Wife;
The reality of living on an organic dairy farm in west Wales
Tuesday 31 October 2023
A Morning without Rain, Halloween Traditions Old & New
On the last day of October we are definitely in autumnal landscapes and we have actually woken to a morning when it is not raining! Such a relief to have blue skies after days of horrendously heavy rain, making the whole farm soggy and surrounded by the sound of dripping from all the roofs. The birds are singing too so they must be happy the rain has ceased. Last week the Farmer, Elder Son and Elder Grandson took themselves off to the annual Welsh Dairy Event which is held in our county town of Carmarthen and they came back after a very good informative day but saying all everyone is talking about is the rain and the effect it is having on the farms. The weather of course is not the only subject of discussion though it looms large. Get dairy farmers together and there is much talk of milk prices, feed prices and the prospective increases, of each. Milk price increases are a Very Good Thing but the increased cost of bought-in feedstuffs is not. While everyone will have made plenty of silage during the summer there is still a quantity of supplementary feed required and as the ingredients are bought on the world market prices are volatile and ever changing and organic feed is always rather more expensive than conventionally grown.
Tonight is Halloween and the grandchildren have been busy making their pumpkin lanterns. When we were children we made 'howkit neeps' being good Scottish children, carving out swedes rather than pumpkins which had not seen in this country until very recently. They are an American import, along with the appalling 'trick or treat'. Halloween has been highjacked by excessive commercialism (I'm becoming a grumpy old granny!!) and I find it a pity. I am all for keeping things simple and as uncommercial as possible and certainly dislike turning a old tradition into a grasping, somewhat threatening activity which has very little to with its origins in the ancient pagan celebration of Samhain which means 'summer's end'. It was Christianised into All Saint's Day which commemorated the souls of the dead.Samhain also marked the time when cattle and sheep were led down from the summer pastures to their winter quarters.
In Wales this day is known as Nos Calan Gaeaf, the First day of Winter. In South Wales there was tradition that boys and men went around houses wearing women's clothing singing a song about the 'White Lady'. They were know as the 'gwarchad' or hags and wore sheepskins, ragged clothes and mask. After doing the rounds of the houses in the village or hamlet they would gather at the farm and have a supper called 'the mash of nine sorts' which was stew made from a variety of vegetables mashed up with salt, pepper and milk. The sacred number nine made this a special feast for All Hallow's Night. Another aspect of my Scottish upbringing is the old game of 'dooking for apples'which originated as a hearthside game once the apple harvest was safely in and may be connected to the ancient story of a journey across water to obtain the magic apple from Emhain Ablach or the Otherworld Island of Apples. Halloween is also the night when the Wild Hunt rides through the skies led by Gwynn ap Nudd, the King of the Faeries, or Herne the Hunter as he is known in England, leading the pack of white hounds with red eyes and ears.
Full-time farmers-wife, cook, laundress, gardener, meeter-&-greeter, mobile gate, answerphone service & bibliophile.
Have lived for over 30 years on a 200 acre organic dairy farm in the Welsh hills, with fiddle-playing farmer husband and two sons.
We host farm walks for schools and any other interested parties and have farm open days and are passionate about educating people on where their food comes from and the importance of the countryside.
We also have a sweet holiday cottage with roses round the door available throughout the year for the perfect country retreat.
Contact for further details;
Telephone; 01559 370341
Logs, electricity, bedlinen & towels included in price Central heating available 1st October-1st May (included in price) Free WiFi Natural spring water Beautiful views Only 30 minutes from beaches We regret the cottage is not suitable for children under 5 years andwe do not accept dogs in the cottage.
Short Breaks available (min. 3 nights, out of peak seasons only)
To enquire about the cottage please email firstname.lastname@example.org
We also have a delightful shepherd's hut on the farm which is available for holidays from March to October. It sleeps 2 & has a seperate cabin with kitchen/sitting-room, shower-room & wood-burning stove.